During the movie The Blues Brothers, Elwood says several times that they are “on a mission from god”. It is clear, at the end of the movie in the incredible chase from the concert hall that he and, presuably, Jake believe this. There is absolutely no way they should have made it, but Elwood, with his characteristic unflappability drives that car as if it is on a rail through every possible obstacle.
They have an unshakeable faith that God is real, God is involved, and God is ensuring they get the taxes paid for the orphanage. It’s beautiful.
Now, I don’t share that faith, possibly because I wasn’t raised by a nun in an orphanage, but it is a great conceit for the movie and I never really fully understood it before. I have watched the movie several times in the past thinking it was portraying the brothers as Fonzie-style, ultra cool, jaded super heroes. But really, it is the hand of Fate we see, and they are just going with it.
This wouldn’t be a blog post without me going on about my personal feelings on the matter. I really do long for a universe where good is rewarded, and everything has meaning, but I think really we are living in a universe where chains of causality stretch back into the first events of the universe, and roll out to the last. We are sitting on a slice of a causality chain and have no more control over the next instant than we do over the proverbial butterfly flapping its wings over Chile causing a hurricaine to roar up the East Coast of North America.
What comforts me is that we can’t seem to maintain realizations about the true nature of reality for more than an instant. Maybe, through meditation practice, we can hold onto it for more time but really, it is never all the time for most people. And when you aren’t seeing it, you are living in what most would call the real world. You are concerned about your life, you want to do well, you are making decisions, and they feel like real choices. Without this, what motivation would we have to go on. When people talk about conciousness as an evolutionary advantage that emerged from the biology, I don’t disagree. I think our ability to be lost in the moment, unable to maintain a long term perspective, forgetting the hardest parts of the past, this is what allows us to go on.